Before the release of his Oscar-nominated 2014 film “Boyhood”, the “Before” trilogy was undoubtedly the magnum opus of director Richard Linklater, and at this point, we can all agree that both “Boyhood” and the aforementioned trilogy are his masterpieces.
The three movies starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, which follow three different moments of Celine and Jesse for nearly two decades, are definitely among the most important romantic movies ever made, and also among the most important film trilogies.
“Before Sunrise” (1995), “Before Sunset” (2004), and “Before Midnight” (2013) have so many different nuances, from deep character-driven drama to lighthearted comedic moments featuring the amazing dialogue written by Linklater, with the collaboration of Delpy and Hawke.
These are films that mix many of the emotions and feelings that couples have in their love lives, from the exasperation of meeting each other and spending their first night together, to dealing with affairs and work crises a few years into their marriage.
With that in mind, this list has 10 titles that approach the theme of love in different ways, even though they might not have the complexity of a love story with all the ups and downs of Jesse and Celine. In either a light-hearted or dark way with more comedic situations, or by deepening the characters’ traces to expose things are simply not meant to happen, here are 10 movies you should see if you like the “Before” trilogy.
10. Quantum Love (Lisa Azuelos)
Written and directed by Lisa Azuelos (“Laughing Out Loud”), this movie that stars Sophie Marceau (“Braveheart”) and François Cluzet (“The Intouchables”) is an easygoing romantic comedy that shows Pierre, a lawyer and married man who meets Elsa, a recently divorced writer with a young lover, at a party, and as they run into each other repeatedly, they start a romance as though they were in a different kind of reality.
Although it relies on its dialogue through the majority of its run time, “Quantum Love” has a good approach on fantasies and the feeling we all have when meeting someone, and when we start to make our own plans for the future. “Quantum Love” may not be a romantic masterpiece, but is a fun and enjoyable movie for fans of the genre.
9. Sidewalls (Gustavo Taretto)
“Sidewalls” is a comedy-drama movie from Argentina, written and directed by Gustavo Taretto, and starring Javier Drolas as Martín and Pilar López de Ayala as Mariana. The two are issued residents of Buenos Aires who live right next to each other, but are separated by their own phobias and the sidewalls of their buildings.
“Medianeras”, the original title, is a reference to the building sidewalls in Buenos Aires that don’t have any windows, and are normally destined to hold gigantic advertising pictures that do not allow people to see the light (see the metaphor here?).
With a variety of filming styles, Taretto’s story of Martín and Mariana is a portrait of relationships and anxieties in our modern society due to the excess of information and our lack of valuable communication. With lots of pop culture references, from soccer videogames to Where’s Wally, “Sidewalls” is a solid modern romantic movie that says a lot for its time and should definitely be checked out.
8. We Won’t Grow Old Together (Maurice Pialat)
“We Won’t Grow Old Together” follows the story of Jean (Jean Yanne), who is married to a woman who constantly travels to Russia, and has a younger lover with whom he has an unsatisfying relationship.
Even though the inconsistent appearances of his wife onscreen is a sign of the state of their marriage that never ends in spite of its edgy situation, the second feature film by Maurice Pialat shows the complexity of a long-term relationship, and how dissolutions of something that was once so strong can lead us to dark places within ourselves.
With camerawork that puts us in the place of a voyeur to their story, the film leaves its audience absent as we go deeper into the minds of the characters and their struggle – as they do – to find a resolution to their situation.
Often considered Pialat’s finest film, “We Won’t Grow Old Together” is a great movie about couples that, even though they are unsatisfied with each other, they have to come to an arrangement between all these reconciliations before understanding what is best for them.
7. Delicacy (Stéphane & David Foenkinos)
This movie starring Audrey Tautou and adapted from the book by David Foenkinos, who also directs it alongside Stéphane Foenkinos, follows Nathalie Kerr (Tautou), a woman who is trying to get over the death of her husband, who finds out that a co-worker, Markus Lundell (François Damiens), has a crush on her.
“Delicacy” is a heartwarming movie that deals with loss and the difficulty of opening up to a new love after losing someone important in our lives, especially someone who was right by your side the entire time. From the first unexpected kiss to the last scene, “Delicacy” is handled as a lighthearted love story with fine performances by Tautou and Damiens, and with one of the most beautiful endings of the 2010s.
6. When Harry Met Sally (Rob Reiner)
Considered by many as the greatest romantic comedy of all time, the movie, written by Nora Ephron (“Sleepless in Seattle”, “You’ve Got Mail”) and directed by Rob Reiner (“Stand by Me”, “Misery”), follows Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan), who become friends after she gives him a ride after their graduation from the University of Chicago. They keep bumping into each other through the years and, as we’re dealing with a romantic comedy, you may have figured out how the movie ends.
The amazing script by Ephron looks like a more hopeful and less neurotic Woody Allen movie, with great dialogue – pay attention to the scene with the split screen and the two phone calls – and truly relatable characters trying to find love. “When Harry Met Sally” definitely deserves a place among the best romantic movies ever made, and is a beloved movie for fans of the romantic comedy genre.